Monday, May 31, 2010

To North Dickey Lake

Of course it rained today as we rode out of Eureka on Tobacco Rd. Shortly after we turned onto Barnaby Lake Rd, a vehicle stopped and warned us of a bear that had just crossed the road. We rode on scanning from side to side, wanting to see the bear and afraid to see it at the same time. There it was! - a beautiful young cinnamon-orange bear. We all stopped to look at each other, but the bear wasn't very interested in us and ambled on. I wanted so much to take a picture but thought moving along was the prudent thing to do; Dick agreed.

In Fortine, we stopped at a little market to eat lunch and met Gordy, a retired CHP officer who was campground host at North Dickey Lake Campground. He talked us into staying there tonight. It rained as we put up the tent, and all afternoon and all night.

Gordy keeps the flags flying.

The table at our site came with a bouquet left by the previous occupants.

Miles completed = 779

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rest Day

For a variety of reasons, we decided to stay one more day in our Eureka motel. Possible snowshowers, guaranteed rain, and a tent that's still drying in front of the heater (which is taped to the opening in the wall).Raingear has been hung and draped wherever possible.

Time to take it easy, rest sore muscles, and pray that the chance of rain declines by tomorrow.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

To Eureka

It started raining during the night, stopped just long enough to have breakfast and pack up our gear, then it started again and didn't stop all day. I wore plastic bags between my socks and shoes and we both suited up in full rain gear. Nevertheless, it was a cold, wet, miserable day with lots of ups and downs. The only slightly more comfortable times were climbing UP the hills. I looked forward to climbing, the generated heat wonderful. No pedaling on the downhills, just the slowest coasting possible. Never did I think I would ever write the previous two sentences - I have never enjoyed climbing hills/mountains and I do love flying downhill avoiding the brake as much as possible. Lake Koocanusa:
It was 21 miles to the small town of Rexford. Our map said there was a restaurant, we found it! It was warm inside, we ate 1/2-pound hamburgers and "jo jos" - one pound of fried potato wedges. The hot coffee also served to warm our hands. We lingered, waiting for a break in the rain. Finally we had to make a break for it. On to Eureka, a town of just 1000 at the crossroads of SR 37 and Hwy 93. It's cold wet days like this that insist we get a motel.

Today's road treasure: fishing tackle. Dick now needs to find/Macgyver whatever else he needs to begin providing fish for our meals.

Miles completed = 758

Friday, May 28, 2010

To Rocky Gorge Recreation Area

A wonderful breakfast of pancakes and cantaloupe by Susie. A great way to start a day's ride. And then she asked if we would like lefse (a thin potato-based Norwegian pancake). You should have seen Dick's eyes light up. As we rode along SR 37, several trains in a row rolled down the tracks on the other side of the Kootenai River. The bright orange locomotives made a nice contrast to all the greens.

Libby Dam. On the other side is Lake Koocanusa which is 90 miles long and backs up 42 miles into Canada. A Libby resident suggested the name taking KOO from Kootenai, CAN from Canada, and USA.
We met our first bicycle tourist, Dave from Calgary who was riding to an Amtrak station (I can't remember which one) then riding from Portland to San Francisco. He didn't know about Warmshowers, so we gave him the information and Susie and Greg's contact info in Libby, but he wasn't sure he'd ride that far today. Dave only has one month to complete his tour which made us feel pretty lucky to be able to take our time.

Tonight we camped at Rocky Gorge Recreation Area, keeping an eye on the sky. There were sprinkles the last two miles (of 42 miles for today) and while we made camp. I quickly put up the tent and Dick started dinner immediately. We were in bed at 6:30, completely exhausted.

Miles completed = 729

Thursday, May 27, 2010

To Libby

It sprinkled during the night, but was dry in the morning as we had breakfast and packed up our gear. Within 5 miles of riding, we pulled into a closed (no coffee this morning, Dick) restaurant and I put on my rain gear. Dick spotted a real phone booth and had to see if it worked (it did). Phone booths are almost obsolete, right?

If it looks like there's heavier rain in the distance, you're be totally right.

The light rain slowly increased in intensity, and by the time we turned onto Hwy 2, it was pouring. We still had 15 miles to go. It was a slog and my rain gear didn't keep out all the rain. I bet it was pretty road, along the Kootenai (pronounced "KOOT-nee) River, but my head was down and turned to the right to avoid the side-splash from big trucks.

A great big thank-you to Susie and Greg, our Warmshowers hosts tonight in Libby. They moved one of their vehicles outside so we could drape some of our soaked gear all over their garage. We did two loads of laundry, had an excellent meal and great conversation. For the past 16 years, Susie has organized STOKR, a fundraising bicycle ride for 400 people which benefits Habitat for Humanity.

Miles completed = 686

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

To Bull Lake, Montana

We're still on SR200 and just a few miles down the road, we crossed into Montana.
After turning onto SR56 and riding about 8.5 miles, we came to the turnoff to a historic ranger station. Gina from Sandpoint had suggested we go up the road and stay here last night, but it was just too far away and today it was not far enough.

Along the Bull River, we met an Idaho couple and their fishing guide. They told us to keep watch up the road for a big grizzly lounging in a meadow. We looked and looked, but could not spot the bear, which may have been a good thing.

Tonight's campground is Dorr Skeels on Bull Lake. Camping fee = $0.

Miles completed = 656

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

To 5 mi E of Clark Fork

We took SR200 out of town as it continued around another part of Lake Pend Oreille. This picture was taken looking back toward Sandpoint.

Clark Fork feeds into Lake Pend Oreille:

We decided to stay at River Delta Resort, and Trail Magic began to happen. Jerry and Barb are seasonal managers. Jerry, a retired high school teacher, once rode bicycles across the USA with his son. As we were putting our camp together, Jerry came out with two large cups of homemade beef vegetable soup - so yummy. Our campsite overlooked Clark Fork. As we began to eat our dinner, Dick spotted a moose swimming across Clark Fork. You can barely see his head in this picture.

When I returned the bowls, Barb then gave us two large pieces of homemade chocolate cherry cake - yummy! L-R: Jeremiah, Mitch (owner) and daughter Kelly, James, Barb and Jerry. What a friendly group. I'd definitely recommend River Delta Resort to travelers. They have RV sites, cabins, and tent camping.

Oh, that cake was gooooood!!

Miles completed = 621

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rest Day

Today was a day to rest and regroup: laundry, charge batteries, explore the town, and rest.

After she got home from school, Kerrancy and I played the game "Memory." She beat me 22-13. Then I got a tour of the fairy garden she'd created.

Shh. I'm playing Hide-and-Seek Tag. I turned off my Barbie walkie-talkie to further disguise my location, but Kerrancy still found me and tagged me.

After delicious pizza from Bab's, we enjoyed an outdoor fire and great conversation. L-R: Mike, Toby, Kerrancy, Gina.

What fantastic Warmshowers hosts! Thank you so much for your hospitality.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

To Sandpoint, Idaho

I think it was the lasagna for breakfast that did it. Today we rode 56 miles. Usually, after eating as much oatmeal as I can stand, I'm ready for breakfast #2 in just a couple of hours. But today, I was hardly ready for lunch when we stopped in Newport, our last Washington town.

We followed Old Priest River Rd, then Dufort Rd, mostly along the Pend Oreille River which drains Lake Pend Oreille, the 5th deepest lake in the USA, about 148 square miles. The US Navy does submarine training in this lake.

The old bridge is now used by pedestrians, athletes and bicyclists.

Tonight we are staying with Warmshowers hosts, Gina and Mike. It feels so good at the end of a long day to be welcomed into someone's home. Dick and I feel so accomplished when we ride 200 miles in a week, and like super athletes when we do as many miles as we did today. But wait, Gina rode 206 miles in just the last two days, and she looked like she could still go out dancing tonight. Gina, you rock!

Miles completed = 582

Saturday, May 22, 2010

To Cusick

First thing this morning, Linda brought Dick a thermos of hot coffee and the newspaper. I would definitely recommend Cedar Park RV & Campground to any cyclist or RVer out there.

The bridge crossing the Pend Oreille River from Ione to Leclerc Rd, a much quieter less-developed alternate to Hwy 20 on the other side of the river.

At a bend in the road, we came across a Stonehenge-like grouping of huge basalt columns. Hey, Boyd from Republic, check it out!

A herd of bison on the Kalispell Indian Reservation:
A field of lupine on Leclerc Rd along the Pend Oreille River:

The rain started in the afternoon and it was sooo cold. We decided to camp at the county fairgrounds in Cusick. Across the street was a little mom-and-pop grocery store where the smell of grease was in the air and everyone who came in seemed to know each other. We had hot chocolate to warm up; Dick walked the aisles of the store looking for inspiration. He finally settled on a small pan of lasagna from the deli - what a great idea! - meaty, cheesy, delicious.

Miles completed = 525

Friday, May 21, 2010

To Ione

We had a rather cold night - 25 degrees, everything is wet or covered with frost. Nevertheless, it was time to move on. 2000' of relatively easy climbing today on Hwy 20 which is sometimes called the Tiger Highway. There was one scenic viewpoint - Crystal Falls.

And then it started to rain. No, that's snow!

To be honest, it snowed for as long as it took to get this picture and put on our raingear. We made such good progress today that we passed up several campgrounds and ended up in Ione, a small community of about 500. We found a great campground, Cedar RV Park, with a most friendly proprietor - Linda, and lots of amenities. Dick's favorite comes in the morning when Linda will bring him hot coffee after she sees that we up and moving around.

Temperatures are below normal and we wonder, "Will it rain tonight?" Please don't let it be as cold.

Miles completed = 487

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rest Day

Broken branches littered the ground, Dick's cooking gear was scattered across the fairgrounds, there's a cold headwind for today's ride - oh heck! let's stay here one more day. The corral now became a clothesline.
Time to explore the town, which actually stopped when we found a good coffee place. Once again, I am bundled up while the locals walk around in shirtsleeves.

We also spent a great deal of time at the local library where I could blog and Dick could catch up on the latest financial chaos and other news headlines.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

To Colville

It was a short ride today from Kettle Falls to Colville. There's camping right in town at Stevens County Fairgrounds and the price is right, just $5/night, hot showers included. The city decided it was a good idea to cater to bicycle tourists a couple of years ago when a group of 300 stopped in with their full-support crew - they gave the city a $2000 donation on the day they left.

Our ponies are tied up to the corral:

No problem following this direction:

We went to bed early, as usual. A few hours later, we woke up to the sound of rain. Then the wind began to blow, really blow! The tent bent inwards when it gusted (up to 40 mph we heard the next day). For the next two hours we were awake, telling old camping and weather stories. The outside of the sleeping bag was wet and there was one little puddle in a corner of the tent.

Miles completed = 452

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To Kettle Falls

The fifth and highest pass on our Washington route has been conquered! It was 19 miles to the top, and it rained for about 2/3 of it.

The sign at the top said:
Before leaving, we bundled up as much as possible. There was a pole near the top of the pass used to measure snow depth with a thermometer attached - 42 degrees. It would be even colder going downhill. There is snow in this picture but it's covered over with gravel.

The rain seemed to stop as we descended, but there was so much water on the road and we were going so fast that the front tire threw it into our faces. Time to keep one's mouth shut. We descended about 4000 feet in the next 22 miles. Across the bridge is Kettle Falls where we would opt for a motel rather than camping.

Miles completed = 441